A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 5, 2007

The Value of a Temperature

Our friends and alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas had a worrying incident on Monday.  Bob and Regina’s farm is north of Clovis and our farm is south of Clovis, it’s great to have such good alpaca neighbors in town and we all benefit from sharing resources, equipment and experiences. 

On Monday afternoon Bob Dart called me concerned about one of his crias a two month old female who was not putting any weight on her leg.  Bob had already called the vet (we share the same vet too) but unfortunately he was out of town and not due back until much later in the week.

Bob was pretty certain the cria had not had any problem with her leg when he did morning chores and naturally was concerned about her.  He had examined her leg and could not feel any heat or swelling in it but obviously something was going on with her leg.  Bob and I discussed various scenarios that could cause a cria to not want to put weight on her leg (fracture, soft tissue damage ect.) but the best we could do was make an educated guess.  After our discussion Bob decided to try giving the cria some banamine to see if that eased the pain and to also make arrangements to take her to another vet the next day.

As the afternoon progressed the cria seemed to get more pain in her leg and was staying in a cushed position.  It didn’t seem as if the banamine was helping.  Later in the afternoon our vet called and spoke to Regina and expressed concern that perhaps the cria had an infection that was settling in her joints.  He advised Regina not to give the cria any more banamine and to see how the cria was doing in the morning.  If the cria was no better or was worse our vet advised taking her to the other vet so that at least some bloodwork and x-rays could be done.

By the evening Bob and Regina could tell that the cria was slowly getting worse, the cria had not been seen to nurse since the problem with her leg was first noticed, and she did not want to stand at all.  Bob and Regina gave the cria a little “Ensure” (a nutritional drink for humans) which the cria took.  After having the “Ensure” the cria looked a little perkier, but the Darts were still not happy about her and so they took her temperature.

The crias temperature was high (above 104, with normal for a cria being 101.5 – 102) and so the Darts again called our vet and left him a message to call them.  Our vet did call back and on hearing about the crias high temperature he advised Bob and Regina to start the cria on some antibiotics.

Following the antibiotics the cria showed signs of improvement and by the morning she was putting some weight on the leg and nursing from her dam again.  Phew!

The Darts will be keeping the cria on a course of antibiotics and hopefully they caught whatever the problem was fast enough to where recovery will be quick and successful.  Thank goodness though they thought to take the crias temperature, the infection was making rapid progress and who knows what the situation would have been in the morning if the cria had not been started on antibiotics.

Knowing your alpaca’s temperature and heart/respiration rate is always good information for your vet should your alpaca have a problem.  Sometimes the temperature and heart/respiration rate will be normal, but it still gives the vet a good picture of the state of the alpaca and might help him or her in their diagnosis.  While you always want to get your alpaca in to see the vet when there is some form of medical problem, there will always be those times when by virtue of Murphy’s Law your alpaca will be sick and your vet out of town.  If you are able to at least speak on the phone with your vet and can provide good information about your alpaca your vet may be able to help you over the phone, or may well suggest that you still take the alpaca to another vet.  Of course it would be unreasonable to expect your vet to make a complete diagnosis over the phone, butwith good information from you at least your vet will be able to advise as to what your course of action should be.




  1. Thank you for sugesting the “CALL THE VET.!” answer to problems!!
    Too many times this is done when it is too late.
    Mary. (not related to a Vet.)

    Comment by mary westrich — April 8, 2008 @ 5:07 am

  2. Thank you for your comment Mary. Calling the vet sooner rather than later is always a good decision, especially when you are talking about alpacas who are notoriously stoic. Often by the time an alpaca shows recognizable symptoms the problem is in advanced stages making it harder to treat. The vet has a better chance of helping your animal to recovery if he or she is involved in the early stages of an illness. In any livestock business your vet is one of your most important partners.

    With best wishes,


    Comment by alpacalady — April 8, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

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